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Rick Hess Straight Up

Education policy maven Rick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute think tank offers straight talk on matters of policy, politics, research, and reform.

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Education Lines Cut From Obama’s SOTU Address

By Rick Hess — January 14, 2016 1 min read

On Tuesday, President Obama delivered his final State of the Union address. Rather than the usual laundry list of policy proposals, it was mostly Obama opining on the state of the world and the national mood. This meant that Obama devoted limited time to specific policies, with only about three minutes on education. I wondered if more had been considered, and one of my inside sources was kind enough to share some of the education lines that got trimmed from the final version.

So, what got cut? I thought the lines were telling. They included:


  • “When I took office, NAEP scores had pretty much just gone up for two decades. Let’s be honest; it was tedious. Now, after seven years of our efforts, we find much more diversity in the outcomes. The scores go up, they go down. It makes for a much richer American tapestry.”
  • “When I became president, the federal DC Opportunity Scholarship program allowed thousands of Washington, DC families to move their children out of DC Public Schools and into private schools. After long years of struggle, my administration has managed to put an end to this threat to our democracy.”
  • “Seven years ago, no one had ever heard of the Common Core. Today, after earnest efforts by my friend Arne Duncan and this administration, it’s still more popular than rat poison, childhood illnesses, and Jeb Bush’s campaign. I say that’s a job well done.”
  • “We have found ways to subject state pre-K programs to thousands of new federal guidelines, regulations, and requirements. Before I took office, few pre-K programs benefited from federal guidelines on potty placement. We’ve worked to rectify that.”
  • “Republicans have claimed that the new Every Student Succeeds Act clips the wings of my Department of Education. Do these extremists still not know me? My lawyers are smarter than their staff. I have many pens and a host of phones. I will not sit on my hands—I plan to keep doing for all children what we’ve done for those Opportunity Scholarship kids in DC, and to do for reform what we’ve done for the Common Core.”

I don’t know about you, but I usually find that what doesn’t get said is at least as interesting as the stuff that does. And this was no exception.

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